Ever since Obama's May speech on the Mid East that mentioned pre 1967 borders as a starting point, Obama has been perceived as having a problem with the Jews. Media outlets such as Politico are churning out stories with dire headlines - "The Jews are abandoning Obama."
Republicans have a big incentive to win over Jewish voters. Ari Fleisher pointed out at the AIPAC conference in May, "If Republicans are successful at attracting 30% of the Jewish vote during a presidential election, they win the election."
All of the Philadelphia Democratic Jewish establishment were chairmen of the Obama fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 30 at Comcast's Executive Vice President David L. Cohen's Mt Airy home. Beside Cohen, the chairman included lawyers Daniel Berger, Alan Kessler, Ken Jarin and Mark Alderman. Jewish guests included Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Steve Cozen, and developer Israel Roizman, an Israeli who rode a tank during the 6 day war in 1967.
Kessler said, "We raised a little less than $2.5 million. (According to DNC sources, the goal was $3 million.) This was a good number considering where we are in the campaign cycle and the state of the economy. People are more focused on getting to the shore and how they are going to pay for their gas to get there than they are on the next election."
The issue of Israel came up often during the fundraising. Kessler said, "With Jewish voters who care about Israel, it took more to convince them to donate. 15-20% did not donate because of the President's comments about the pre 1967 borders."
He then walked me back from those estimates. Fundraisers often find that people who can no longer afford to give will not admit it and trot out a political reason for their lack of giving. Having been a fundraiser and a target for donations myself, I would say that this probably means that we should cut Kessler's estimate in half -7.5% -10% did not give because of the President's Mideast speech. This is still a large, significant number.
Kessler also pointed out that it will be easier to fundraise when Obama is running against someone in particular.
Steve Cozen, an ardent supporter of Israel, directly asked the President at the fundraiser about his support of Israel. He came away convinced that the President has unwavering support for Israel and its security. Cozen said, "In practically terms, this President is providing more financial and logistical support to Israel than any other administration. The Iron Dome has prevented many attacks."
Cozen believes that "some of the President's reasons for stating that the pre 1967 borders should be a starting point of the negotiations is the upcoming UN vote about a Palestinian state in September." Cozen explained, "The President does not want the United States to be the lone veto vote of the resolution. With his comments about the 1967 borders, the President hopes that he will be able to convince others to join us in that veto."
My friend, Richard Rothwharf, points out the problem with analyzing the Jewish community. "We are the only minority group that votes against our interests meaning Israel."
Berger agrees that Jewish concerns are not monolithic. He commented, "The Republicans are always trying to peel off the Jewish Democrats. Of course, Israel is an issue. But when Jews consider the commandment Tikkun Olam, (fixing the world), they have no choice but to vote Democratic."
I attended the lower minimum fundraiser ($100-$2500) at the Bellevue Hyatt earlier in the day. With the exception of Obama's base in the African American community, the rest of his base did not come out. With the $100 ticket price for younger voters (Gen 44), it was surprising that the DNC were not able to attract more of them.
Looking at a list of chairmen for Romney's fundraiser the same day, I did not see any Jewish defections from the Democratic party. The Jewish chairman included Charles Kopp, Jeffrey Orleans, Mitch Morgan, and Ira Lubert. As far back as I can remember, these 4 have always been Republicans.
Ben Smith from Politico's article on Obama may be losing the Jews, which seemed to indicate a huge problem in the Jewish community with Obama, has some problems. I specifically asked Daniel Berger about his comments in the article. Berger, who is no fan of Politico, swears he said nothing negative about fundraising for the Obama dinner to Smith. Then how was Smith able to get this particular quote?
Ben Smith stands behind his reporting. When contacted, he said, "You are, to my eye, printing an innuendo. I'll give him a call tomorrow and can share my notes if he wants. The quote is totally accurate. He said a ton of things I didn't include, as does everyone one interviews." Smith never answered my email if he had checked with Berger.
Betsy Sheerr, who works tirelessly to get women elected to public office, was a major supporter of Hilary Clinton in the 2008 election. She never really got behind Obama so her quote on this subject is meaningless.
I hope that this quells some of the hysteria about Obama's Jewish problem.